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Study: Female Stinkbugs Can Change the Color of Their Eggs

posted: 07/24/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Stinkbug eating leaf
BackyardProduction/iStock

Stinkbugs can alter the color of the eggs they lay, according to new research published in the journal Current Biology.

Researchers noted that stinkbug eggs laid on top of leaves are darker than the eggs laid beneath leaves. The pigmentation of eggs acts as a sunscreen of sorts, protecting eggs' inhabitants from ultraviolet radiation.

"We suspect that these bugs possess some kind of physiological system that receives visual input from the environment and then modulates the application of a pigment in real time," explains study lead author Paul Abram.

Surprisingly, the pigmentation is not caused by melanin, a common pigment found in humans. Biochemical analysis revealed that the pigment is a different, likely undiscovered substance.

"This is the first animal found that can selectively control egg color in response to environmental conditions, but we really doubt that it's the only one," Abram adds.

Some other birds and insects are able to lay eggs with varying pigmentation, but those unintentional variances are attributed to age or changes in diet.

Click here to learn more about Abram's research

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